Robinson Crusoe
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design by Wes Farmer

Robinson Crusoe

Here's a boat for the skipper who wants a bottom that can take it. She's a 26 foot, 16 mph, storm-taming sea skeff - a design proven in the white water of a New Jersey inlet. She draws only 2-1/2 feet

It is surprising the number of letters I have received asking for plans of an economical, small cruiser of orthodox construction.

It would appear that boat-wise watermen know that fuel costs money these days and that a fast boat, if used much, will soon chew up a lot of dollars. Also, these men all agree that it is very little more trouble to build a boat in the usual time-tried manner than it is to try to build to the limit of economy. Standard methods are best—the boat lives far longer.

To meet the demand, I have designed Robinson Crusoe. This lightfooted, mediumweight cabin motorboat is 25 feet 7½ inches overall by slightly more than 8-foot beam, and draws about 2½ feet under the skeg.

She will weigh approximately 5340 pounds and will travel at 13-16 mph with from 50 to 72 hp. This makes her a nice compromise between economy and speed. A 50 hp engine will gulp less than half the fuel of a 100-horse motor, and the latter would give but a couple more miles an hour speed.

I have chosen the over-all length as being about the minimum for a boat that doesn’t have to wait on weather. For a light-footed, easily driven hull, of tested sea-keeping ability, I’ve selected the true Jersey sea skiff bottom as developed along the middle Atlantic Coast from Sandy Hook to Cape May. These true sea skiffs always have hard bilges, flat buttocks aft, flat runs, flat floors and, usually, lapstrake or clinker planking.

Now lapstrake planking of itself is no fair claim that the boat is a true sea skiff. One sees some boat companies building ordinary oversize round-bilged clinker launches these days; many of these hulls are not true sea skiffs.

It takes really hard bilges and that good flat hind end, as developed by such famous skiff designers as Lockwood Haggas of Atlantic City to produce true sea skiff qualities. Robinson Crusoe has that Jersey sea skiff bottom as developed over generations along the Jersey coast.

The arcuate raked stem, sometimes misnamed “clipper bow” (which is something entirely different) is a consideration to the current trend toward boats with beaks. If you don’t like the beak, run the stem rake up straight and the boat will look even more like a Jersey sea skiff. Aside from that, only a few points of arrangement are unusual.
I’ve provided a bit more cabin space than is sometimes found in this type. It’s the kind you need cruising some wet morning or when anchored in a secluded cove. The layout will sleep two easily, will feed several hands adequately for short periods and lends itself well to that informal disarray usual with spur-of-the-moment boating.

Robinson Crusoe will le cheap to build, cheap to run and she’ll behave buoyantly at good speeds in a chop, even when the weather blows up a lump.

Consuming a gallon every three and one half to four miles, she’ll do her 15 miles in an hour at about 99 cents for gasoline. This isn’t much more than a heavy automobile would use, and, for a boat, especially one traveling such a merry clip, this is economy plus.

The plans are fully complete. My original drawings were done on Bristol board—there are no tracings, hence no other “blueprints” available. Nor do there need to be.

Any man who has tackled one boat before he attempts Robinson Crusoe would find her very easy to build. Novices shouldn’t try her without continual access to skilled advice. But rest assured that any good mechanic or any boatbuilder would breeze through her. The plans show where, what, how big it is and where it goes. The “why” cannot be supplied by plan. Only experience will give it.

Start building by the usual pràcess of laying down the lines full-sized, fairing out errors in offset dimensions as scaled. This will take a few days, and would be better to do on a floor made of three plywood panels rather than on paper.

This boat is best built upside down. I would frame the boat with steamed frames over the usual mold and ribband form. It takes longer to set up to frame first, rather than to plank over molds and then frame later as professionals do, but the frame-first method has the advantage that one man, working alone, progresses completely. His fastenings are all in when he quits, and he can quit at any time of day he wants to. He doesn’t have to go back and fill out frames and put in more fastenings which requires extra help.

When the body plan has been gee’d up with the fair profile lines and the fair half-breadth lines on your loft floor, subtract from the frame lines the 3/4—inch frame thickness, the 5/8-inch planking thickness and the thickness of the ribbands you use. These will be spaced about 8 inches apart, of nominal 1-inch by 2-inch stuff screwed to the molds. The resulting line is the line to which you cut the molds and they then must be erected in usual fashion over a centerline struck on the floor. at the proper right angle station spacing. The rest is just plain homespun boatbuilding calling for perseverance.

If used on salt water, copper fastenings and Everdur would be best. If galvanized,, fastenings are to be used, use them throughout—do not mix copper and galvanized as the zinc in such combinations is eroded by galvanic action with cuprous fastenings in salt water.

Hardware, tank placement and so on are clearly indicated by plan. Bunks may be of laced canvas with sleeping bags thrown over, or may be .“gussied up” by using Foamex mattresses with regular blankets and sheets.

After launching, let soak for half a day before bailing and running trials. This prevents “nail sickness” often found after hard runs before tightening up.

Robinson Crusoe will build for about $300 to $400 more than the cost of an outboard cruiser. She’ll give years of wonderful adventure!

Designers Specifications

The scantling specs are medium to medium light. It is a propensity of true sea skiff construction to be very strong. I have called for a lot of red cedar (western red) as it is easily procured and adequate. Yellow pine can also be had in lengths up to 27 feet or so, and it is a good inexpensive boatbuilding wood, needing only moderate cussing in the fastening department. Here are the specs:

Keel: White oak sided 2-¾”, molded as per lines plan. Apron sided 5-½”, molded 1-¾”, of fir, spruce, yellow pine.

Stem: Sided 2-¾” white oak, molded as shown.

Knee: Same material or hackmatack. Fasten with ½” bolts as shown, heads counter sunk and plugged.

Transom: Inner layer ½” x 5” red cedar. Outer layer ½” x 5” dark Philippine mahogany. Riveted with canvas between.

Transom frame: 1¾” x 5” red cedar or spruce.

Frames: ¾” molded by 1-1/8” sided white oak, heels boxed into apron, spaced as shown on lines drawing. To be fastened to strakes with No. 12 copper rivet over burr, one rivet per lap landing.

Engine bed: Sided 2-½” fir. Engine stringers bolted to engine beds, to be 7/8” x 5” spruce.

Bilge stringers: 7/8" by 2½" spruce or yellow pine. Hogging stringer same dimension and material.

Planking: 5/8” Port Orford cedar, lapstraked and riveted along strake lap.

Shelf and sheer clamp: 7/8" x 2½" spruce. May be scarphed; if scarph 30” long, edge bolted.

Coamings: 5/8“ sided, molded per offsets measurements. May be dark Philippine mahogany or two layers of plywood, ¼” inner, ½“ outer, screwed and cleated.

Seat backs, bulkheads, cabin floors: 5/8" red cedar, panelled to requirements.

Cabin carlins: ½” x 2¼” red cedar or spruce to crown ¾” arc per foot of length. Spaced 9” centers.

Cabin soles: 5/8“ spruce tongue and grooved, nailed to beams with 4 d. galvanized nails.

Decking: 5/8“ red cedar tongue and grooved 2” wide, laid under 8 ounce canvas in Jeffery deck glue.

Standing top beams: ¾” x 1-¾” red cedar or spruce, 3/8“ crown per running foot. Decking for this portion to be 3/8“ red cedar under 8 ounce canvas.

Engine: From 50 to 72 hp. Use Gray Lugger 6-72, or 60 hp Model 620, or Universal 4 Superfour, 50 hp. Do not change position of engine. Designer will be glad to recommend correct propeller for any motor.

Steering: To be effected by spoked steerer using cable over drum and sheaves to quadrant on rudder head.

Wes Farmer

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